31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands: A Novel (Hardcover)
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This novel introduces us to one of the most interesting characters I've read in a long time.
Emily Shepard is a 17 year-old homeless girl who tells her very unique story. The book is divided into two sections - B.C. (Before Cameron) and A.C. (After Cameron.) Cameron is the 9 year-old boy whom Emily takes under her wing after being homeless for a few months. Several months earlier, only child Emily was living with her parents who both worked at Cape Abenaki, a nuclear power plant in which her father was in charge. The plant melted down and both of Emily's parents were killed. The speculation is that Emily's father was at fault.
Hoping to avoid being questioned by authorities, and enduring the wrath of the families who are displaced, Emily runs away and takes on the alias "Abby Bliss." Emily is a devout fan of Emily Dickinson and references are made to Dickinson's poems throughout the book (Abby was a friend of Dickinson's.) It becomes clear that Emily has some mental health issues that were even apparent before the plant melted down. Emily tells of her life at a homeless shelter, living with a group of people known as the "posse" and living with Cameron in an igloo made of plastic trash bags. She also begins to self mutilate by cutting.
You can’t help but root for Emily, but she doesn’t make it easy at times. She is clearly troubled, yet intelligent and determined. Some of the things she endures are truly heartbreaking. The story never breaks stride and I found it completely engaging at all times.
This is arguably one of Chris Bohjalian's best books.